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Wednesday, September 11, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Jean Godden / Times staff columnist

A TV star fallen on hard times

West Seattle resident Gina Terrana could scarcely believe her eyes at the West Seattle garage sale last week. Could it be? Oh, surely not. But then she paid the price — $2 — and took home the bright yellow puppet with the shock of red fur hair.

What a bargain.

Turns out the puppet is Norbert, star of "Boomerang," a KOMO-TV kids' series that aired in the '70s and '80s. Norbert — although stripped of his trademark rugby shirt — looks like a second cousin to Ernie of "Sesame Street" fame.

During its heyday, "Boomerang" won some dozen Emmys for Norbert and his buddies, among them puppeteers Lee Olson and Kathy Tolan; writer Nancy Schwedop; performer Marni Nixon; director Ken Schwedop, and producer Barbara Groce.

Terrana says, "Norbert is staying at my house right now. But if the Museum of History & Industry wants him, let me know. He deserves a secure retirement."

•   •   •

Flower power: Where did all those flowers go? The million flowers that last September carpeted the Seattle Center's Memorial Fountain, a memorial to those lost on Sept. 11, went to the Interlaken P-Patch. There they were turned into compost.

This week volunteers have been bagging the compost along with tulip bulbs. They'll hand out packets at today's events at Seattle Center.

The remaining compost is earmarked for the Liberty Community Garden close to Ground Zero in New York City. P-Patch volunteer Jon Rowley says a cubic foot of compost reached New York City in July.

Rowley is trying to arrange shipment of a cubic yard (about 1,000 pounds). One problem: Cash donations are needed to pay for shipping.

•   •   •

Heroes among us: Special guest at tomorrow night's benefit dinner for the New York Widows' & Children's Fund is New York Deputy Fire Chief Nick Visconti, who will give a firsthand account of last year's tragedy. It's the second Seattle visit this year for Visconti, who came here in March to speak at the Pacific Northwest Firefighter Training Conference.

The Seattle Fire Fighters Benevolent Association arranged the benefit, set to take place at the Fairview Club on Boren Avenue. (For tickets, call 206-285-1271.) Among those attending are fire chiefs from all over the state.

•   •   •

Gentleman Ron: More often than not, Seattle PR maven Ron Dotzauer wears a cowboy hat and boots to his trendy Queen Anne offices. Each evening he drives home to his horse ranch and the bucolic lifestyle in rural Snohomish County. He's a gentleman farmer at heart.

Now comes proof that his hat and boots are no mere affectation. This week for his birthday, his wife — Snohomish County PUD Commissioner Cynthia First — and his daughters presented Dotzauer with the ultimate gift — two goats.

•   •   •

Teed off: World Class Chili's Joe Canavan this week dished up bowls of red for a bunch of tourists, all wearing T-shirts that read: "It's God's job to forgive Osama bin Laden; It's our job to arrange the meeting. NYPD."

Jean Godden: 206-464-8300 or jgodden@seattletimes.com.

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